tv Book TV After Words CSPAN January 8, 2012 9:00pm-10:00pm EST
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and in this book you detail not only to reflect positively on you including specifics about the lobbying abuses that led to your felony conviction and imprisonment what prompted you to write this book? >> guest: two things. first i thought it was important that i present to the country and to their readers what really happens in washington. i'd gone through quite a journey from the time i was a lobbyist until the time i landed in prison in terms of rethinking the role i was an and the role i was decided when malae was in prison that should take a different approach to this world to do something about it and part of the would-be to talk about it and the kind of things that most people kind of suspect but don't really get to know because they don't get to go behind the doors into the rooms that i was in and hear the conversations that i heard as a
lobbyist and enable america to have a true assessment of what the government is at least in part become to be the second reason i did it is because when my case became very public and there were hearings and all sorts of news articles the worsening news articles on started collecting them into a folder in my computer frankly thinking this wouldn't last long and might as well as a fall of the articles but it became almost kind of a of a virtual that i would go and get all the articles from the internet and put them in a folder and by the time i went to prison there were over 10,000 different articles with that name and yet because i didn't speak and i didn't give a window into my life i had become kind of an evil cartoon and couldn't help myself with wearing a hat coming out of my pleas in court, but i had become kind of a villain and i wanted to show people and not an evil
person, i did things that were wrong but i don't have retail or parnes. i grew up like everybody else or maybe not like everybody else but i have kids coming wife, a family coming and i felt it was important to tell from my perspective what did happen. >> host: you describe being shocked when you first came to washington having worked for it for the college republicans when you went to lobby for funding for the missile and a member of congress i can deliver more than a dozen votes for you if you arrange for me to have a naval base in my district. and you described feeling very contagious about that. what was it like and what were your initial reactions? >> what happened is i was first in the college republicans and during that period of time we were a political group in the republican party and we were activists and kind of wacky and
while and did things to investigate trouble and what not on the campuses and organize republicans. when i became of the head of president reagan's grass-roots lobby that's when i experienced this moment the congressman where he said you enable us to have this base in my district i will organize the votes and i was shocked by that. i guess you hear about it and see on tv and see in the movies but to see it in person of course would be in my 20s i was very surprised by that and didn't counter a lot of that until i returned to washington about ten years later as a lobbyist. spec you describe your life and pretty candid terms and you describe one of the ways he would extend job offers to congressional and before they left the congressional offices they would have you in mind and
you thought you effectively had control of that often. describe how that worked. >> guest: at first when i started building the lobbying practice, started to look for people to hire and i joined the lobbying firm initially i was the only person there who had not worked on capitol hill. in fact during the meetings, the initial meetings one of the fellows suggested that i go back to capitol hill and get a job. i was interested in doing that at that point in my life that if rebels worked on capitol hill so when the time came to higher the lobbyist it was growing i went to capitol hill. first the first couple hires i came came immediately to me. they didn't wait a week. they gave notice and they joined right. so i didn't notice anything. as i started to hire more and i started to look at some of the players on capitol hill manly the staff and i really hope we can get her or him to join my
practice, 1i mentioned as i noticed at that point once they read it they would start to have in mind where they were going to go in a year or to which i guess is only natural people start thinking about their next job. and i noticed the amazing power on them and their office also the 70 became innocence our agents and in fact more than our agencies all the things that benefit us and our clients that we couldn't even think of perhaps as a way of making sure before they got there. >> host: in your would you describe this as one of the biggest problems in washington. >> guest: right. it's one of the problems in terms of the corruption, and it's also -- and it's not to say that everybody that is hired by the way is doing this. nothing that i say is applicable to everybody. but, the fact that people can go in the revolving door for public service into becoming much more wealthy frankly joining the lobbying firms or doing whatever they do is a problem and it's
something in which i as a lobbyist started to use. i knew after a couple of years of this that i was strategically planning ahead for the business and i would try to hire people who i thought would be a big help as well. it is a source of corruption. it's not something people focus on. they are starting to focus on it as i wrote about it but people don't generally know about this outside of washington and it's a big source of control. >> host: you also described how you charge clients including indian tribes 150,000 a month even the weather, many of the lobbyists were charging about a tenth of that. describe how you can to represent so many in your tribe would do it for them and how the payments came to be held against you. >> guest: i represented half a dozen tribes that once. our representations were different than most. most lobbying firms go and ask
clients for ten or 15,000 a month and they do some things for them and they can't engage in those prices and big fights. the people that hiring were in life-threatening fights. they were people who either were about to get put out of business or they were folks when i was urgently hired by the tribe it was because the republican congress was about to pass the unrelated business income tax that would have taken 30% of the gross revenue of the tribes and all the lobbyists the had working which were democrats at that point, 1995, they couldn't stop this thing. so i was hired and brought in to do that. initially some law firms, the law firms charge their clients based on the amount of hours that individual people spend on the case and they add up those hours and multiply them by the hourly rate that these people use and that's how they come to the monthly bill. the fight got a very intense.
we won the first go round and then there were more rounds and more fights and hearings and this and that. and the bill was getting up there pretty high. and i noticed that the bill was averaging out of about $150,000 a month. and so, the other clients who came on had similar situations and ultimately i got to understand that when we went to war unlike most firms do they do some research and meetings we've would literally run legislative fights with the entire congress and hearings and there is a form effort the time that we were put in, the time about 40 people working for me at some point the time they would then multiplied generally wound up to be on average basis around that number. so the subsequent clients when they came to me with their problems i explained what we would do and explain the kind of activities we would be involved in and i told them this would be the price and they were
threatened to lose hundreds of millions of dollars a year. so i think they felt a couple million dollars a year in terms of the fees were probably worth it and they were usually one. >> host: you have been asked to pay restitution. >> guest: i have. you know, i planned and the matter of restitution is probably average there. when my career was over i sat back and add up the fees were collected and the benefits we have provided, the money that we saved, the taxes that we stopped from being put on in the land and we helped them get to their controls and travel reservation land and try to place some conservative value and for about $80 million or so and if he is that the firms were charged we figured we delivered about $6 billion.
so that to me was the measure of my representation of my clients. and by the way, the reason my clients continue to hire me year after year, i didn't have contract like most lobbying firms do. most of the contract saying you got to hire for a year or two years and no matter what you can't break that contract. my deal with my client was if you don't like the fire me by the afternoon. in fact i had one client which was a foreign country who wanted us to represent them, they wanted us to get some ports to the u.s. to create a naval base and we were lobbying to get the u.s. to take that place and may be set up a u.s. naval base very strategic in the country, and unfortunately they were in the practice of that point once we started representing the started arresting members of the staff of the u.s. embassy they were arresting them and holding them without charges and the state department obviously was very upset about this. i went to the man said listen if
you've got to let them go in this country we don't do that in our country we do do that. so i said i can't represent you any longer. then i offer to give them that all the money because i haven't achieved what we had to achieve. they said they couldn't do it because. that was my attitude towards the client if i didn't deliver value for them if i didn't want to be paid by them. >> host: describe handan and cementer in the envelope of contributions and being told the affairs committee would treat your clients well. you say in the but while the campaign money is a problem it's not the only problem or even the means problem. what is the main problem in your view? >> guest: is certainly part of the main problem. the main problem that they are forming is identified in terms of solutions in the book to some of the corrections. the overall problem by the way is that the governments, the federal governments have 30,000 or whatever the number number is because turning to the 30,000
lobbyists running around with hundreds of thousands of things that far exceed any vision of the country from the past. so that's the reason that this industry is growing continually paid there's never a bad year in the lobbying industry and there's never a bad year by the way around this town. and so, but what i feel this you are not going to be able to reduce the size of government immediately then the money that gets involved the campaign contributions on one hand and then also the gratuity and the meals and trips and the tickets and bowl games and everything else, however one gets them through the loopholes left in all any of these things unfortunately come down. i know it is not polite to say that and i certainly didn't think that when i was in there but i'm not quite sure how well as one looks at it if you are giving a public servant something of value and you won that public servant to do something for you i don't know how you characterize it as anything else at this point in my life. that's number one. number two, the revolving door
between public service and cashing in. one is cashing in as a lobbyist for a strategic adviser or a history professor or whatever the euphemism of the day is it's still cashing in and i think america looks at this and sees folks showed in this town with $20,000 fleeting or $20 million scratching their heads. when we lose our jobs we don't have any food on the table and meanwhile they are getting rich, so i think that that is -- the other two that i think can go after the corruption as a lobbyist i used to pretend or at least convince myself because you want to have people have the right to vote for whoever they want and there is a value to having people in a long time. those are not true. the truth is a lobbyist a month ago by a congressman's office twice. if you have a congressman he made a relationship with through these unfortunate that it's you don't want to have to start all over the new election to the
term-limits or important in terms of getting through this town and then finally the other thing i talked about in the book is the prescription one of the main pillars for the prescriptions is trying to get these guys to apply every wall they need to themselves recently we've seen this insider trading scandal. but we know there are other laws they also apply to these folks have easily gone to prison for 11 years for insider trading but at the same time if he were a member of congress he wouldn't have to go anywhere. that isn't fair. for the loans they make me to be applied to themselves. >> host: you use the term bribery to be also in the book and i wanted to quote briefly you described it at one point a particular senator you were told would support you if he received a $5,000 check for the campaign and as you describe it of course neither considered for a moment
of this contradiction might be. so are you saying that campaign contribution is a broad and in this kind of exchange, and on capitol hill? >> guest: it's very common. it's common all over town. i don't think it is a bright if you are a citizen and you care about your government and you want to give money and would never amount to somebody running for congress or the senate for the presidency. and you are doing it for the betterment of the country or for sort of macroissues. if you are doing it because you want to get an year markhor because you want to get a tax break or you are doing it because you want to get a grant or a contract or things like that i don't see how that is not a bribe. >> you describe the rest on that you started becoming a virtual cafeteria and fund-raising hub for groups of members of congress and the staff. to describe the gifts and the tickets and sporting events i think you said to spend 1.5 million a year on sporting
event tickets and you also describe the notorious space when the trip where you play on the old court at st. andrews to get under the lobbying reforms passed after you were convicted, all of that would now be illegal. do you believe the lobbying reforms put in place after you left washington have improved the system? >> guest: i think they've marginally improved but not solve it. there are still many loopholes and will give you an exit likened to a member to lunch and by then a hamburger for $25 or whatever the price of hamburgers are in this town. but if i declare that with the fund-raising and a pullout of my pocket $5,000 checks and i say we are having a fund-raiser here is the check, i can buy them the hamburger and i can then have the same conversation. that is a loophole, that's the way around it. so there are many loopholes still and what we see are the people go through where they take away certain things will ultimately they are not making
systemic changes which is what is going to happen. there will be a shutting of the door. nothing of value. you see people lobbying and the government and try again to get the benefits for themselves or their companies or their communities or whatever they are doing. no financial con villans to the public service at all, not the dollar, not a pickle, not a glass of water, nothing. >> of the time you were under scrutiny of capitol hill you were quoted as saying that you were being pilloried for activities that were commonplace in the lobby in the world. do you still believe that is true? >> guest: i think was kallur for 90% of it was legal. i went over the line may be 10% or less in the time. i went to prison for that but most of what i did was legal and most of what everybody else was doing was illegal. i don't accuse others of breaking the law. i guess i'm accusing the entire
system of being over the line. not the legal with the appropriate line and so in that respect, yes, people certainly are doing what i did. i didn't invent anything or create the idea of taking people to meals or sporting events or any of that. i just had my own plane, i overdid it and i crossed the line. >> guest: what about the lobbying industry today. what is your opinion and what works or doesn't work with the way that lobbying is conducted now in washington? >> guest: i feel it's important to note that there are many -- most lobbyists are fine. probably not doing anything wrong or illegal in any way. i don't have numbers and percentages, but my experience was that most of the lobbyists play on a much more quiet scale than i did and some of the bigger folks to. that doesn't mean that the kind of things i did are not going on
today. they are. and there was a lobbyist who was invited and sent to prison after me come after my scandal or continued doing it, so people don't really learn when they see somebody like me go down. it's more like -- and a trip to like it or driving on the road and all of a sudden you see a terrible car wreck and as you drive by you slow down and look and you are scared for a little bit and the next while you are not taking any walls come you were just unbelievable. down the road you forgotten it already and or down to speeding and i think that is what sort of goes on here. >> host: one of the things you talk about in the book is your jewish care deeply culture these you give money to come and a question of moises given your commitment that to the morals how did you land at the center of one of the most celebrated controversies. >> guest: you know, it's interesting. when i was a lobbyist actually didn't think i was doing a thing wrong. i thought i was doing what
everybody does. aggressive and that was my personality, fiber aggressive person my whole life. but i didn't really quite see where i was. that's my own fault. i thing i liken it to sometimes when you set off on a ship and if you are one small degree off base you will not notice that at the beginning, you might not even notice in the middle of your trip by the time you're done you are on a place you never even dreamed that he would wind up and that is sort of what happened with me. unfortunately i lost sight of what i believe and what i knew. a lot of it had to do with the competition of my wanting to win. i had too much of a desire to never lose. i liked the competition. i plead rough. if you attack one of my clients and to work on capitol hill, you would expect us to come after you and your election.
we were a very sluggish growth of lobbyists i'm afraid to say, but that is the kind of aggression and activity unfortunately was made normal to me by the fact i thought i was protecting clients' i loved and basically supported all of their issues. i made a lot of money for them and for me. my wife and i gave away 80% of the money that we made to charity and community causes, so it's not like it was from my current situation like i invested it although i guess one could say helping people is not a bad investment. and so while doing all of that i thought i was doing good stuff. i looked at other lobbyists and fought it takes 10,000 a month from the support client to lead them down the path. degette defeated, they get in trouble. they don't win. you don't care. your attitude is i will just get another client. our attitude is we are going to live or die with our client
because of a loose we don't come back alive that is the ethos for better or worse in our office and so looking at all of that while in the middle of that i felt i was the more obviously. unfortunately i had gone so far off the path it was my perception. >> host: uzi looking becky should have been bothered by how often the members of return for political contributions and some of the kids say the solutions of public financing. do you agree? >> guest: i don't. first of all i don't trust any government program to be honest with you. i had the privilege of living under the government auspices for 43 months. so i got up close and personal with a lot of government employees, and i'm not certain i want them doing too much although they treated me all right in that place. i'm nervous about public financing for a lot of reasons. first of all, the jeffersonian
reason is not taking somebody's money and spending it on an ideological thing that they don't believe them, which i think is ultimately the problem there. second of all we are at a time we need to cut back the government cannot increase the government expenditures and third whenever you open a big government program where you are spending money, guess who shows up ultimately, the lobbyist. somebody is going to show up and try to get control of that money. that is in their nature. i would much rather see a total barham were on the people whose money in the system is so we in the system. somebody's out there that just cares about the country and wants to give away all their money to the politics because that's what they like. i don't view that is a problem if they are not asking for things. it is just because they are. if they are not for what they believe in people needing that's good. that is what this country should have been. i'm not in favor of people who are like i was who are giving money and raising money to get
something. that is the problem and i don't think that campaign public financing is sort of addresses that but to me it creates a different problem with different potential for corruption that i don't want to see. >> host: many are angry at washington right now both on the left and the right. do you think they have a right to be and how should congress response? >> guest: they should wake up. the 89% approval rating that should tell them something right there. they have these things like the insider trading laws and they don't understand why they are so unpopular. they don't understand if people look at them and look at what they are doing the look of the money they make and the power they yield and they resent it and they don't have a marquee but they certainly have something close in terms of congress and the some degree the white house. >> host: you recommend a sign of a cleanup not unlike grover
norquist anti-tax pledge. >> guest: one of the one supports for the tax reform facilitated for members to sign or not nobody could be nine. i don't believe they are not raising taxes. people forget that not raising taxes is a primary tenant in the republican party. so what he's done though is turned it into an actual pledge so that if somebody breaks that to their constituents and to the voters they can help them accountable. what i propose is similar things in the government. those who are running for the seats sign a pledge they're going to vote for and co-sponsor and do everything they can to push through legislation that enacts these kind of changes and frankly takes away their purposes in terms of this, and afterwards told them to the and if they don't come kick them
out. >> host: you describe having grover norquist as a college republican. i believe ralph reed as well. describe the role that these men played in your life and the role that the plan now. >> guest: grocery and i met at harvard business school and i was a student at brandeis. i'd just become the head of the college republicans up there and grover was back in the organization and together we organized for the ronald reagan campaign in the 1980's and worked very hard and had all sorts of adventures in the book some of which were pretty funny and basically at the end we won massachusetts as the group of ramadi was involved they were generous enough in the party to credit the us but we provided a difference. we registered several thousand absentee ballot college republicans whose votes of the
end of the damage the difference and the three were the 4,000 victory in that state. so we went through that together after that. grover suggested to me to run for the national chair. he had some involvement with karl rove and others in the past and were friends with them. i'd just come out of california and went to brandeis and so grover was my campaign manager and then when mauney won in 1981 came as mike deacons executive director and stayed in that year before he went off to other. he returned with me. we reunited in the lobby he was the field director and then also found the americans for tax reform which was an immensely effective. we haven't been in touch much doing this. unfortunately for him he had tremendous scrutiny. people seemed to get mad at him over the tax thing and blamed
him for the kind of budget super kennedy business and so he tries to i think keep his head down a little bit and so we have not had much contact, but consider him to be a friend, and haven't been in touch with him but that's okay because he has other titles to play. >> host: what about ralph reed? >> guest: he came to the convention i was elected in 1981 as a very young man, a teenager and came to work for us and lived we couldn't afford to pay more than $100 a month in those days we had no money. they were making a thousand dollars and i was making a thousand dollars a month as well. so he lived on my couch. he became the executive director eventually had a religious a penny and went off to then work for pat robertson and ultimately the christian coalition and build the organization into an incredible operation.
he played a role in our efforts to stop casinos in the south. the depiction of his role caused him trouble later as he didn't necessarily describe things precisely correctly and if, probably costing him the governor's race. i haven't been in touch with him since then. >> host: thank you. we are going to a break now and we will be back shortly. >> speeseven is available through itunes. visit booktv.org and click podcast on the upper left side of the page. select which you would like to download and listen while you travel. >> host: at the beginning of this would you describe how you are attracted to a senate hearing felt like a death march. and i want you to talk a little bit about these events that began in 2003 after the articles in "the washington post" began to appear, the amount of money
the tribes were paying you, you raised questions about your involvement in the cruise line business that fell apart under the questionable circumstances. the was the beginning of the whole chain of events that you describe what or almost of the archetypal washington crisis and unfolding of a scandal where you are under this microscope and, you know, you were fired from your lobbying firm, investigated by federal prosecutors, called to testify on capitol hill, at were read by the news media. was that like for you? >> guest: it was horrible. when this started as i mentioned i thought this would probably blow over after a couple of weeks pla didn't think there was anything to it. the article in "the washington post" cannot at the beginning of march i guess in 2004 weren't february the articles i charge my clients a lot of money.
"the wall street journal" said the same thing. yes i did charge them a lot of money. this reporter who came to see me from the "washington post" i gave her an interview tried to explain what we did for our clients there wasn't much interest in hearing that, so the information that all i compiled in getting the article, but when the article 1 came out frankly there was an e-mail back-and-forth with firm saying should we post the article on our website all it really does is talk about how, you know, it's claiming we are ripping off our clients that they know better than that and it will be over with soon. and senator mccain got into action and subpoenaed all of my e-mails and started serious investigation on the senate side. unfortunately it seems this involved some of my and rival lobbyists he actually wrote a letter to one of the tribes with
the work of one of my rival will be guests in the investigation, so it seemed to me that at first it would go away and then when it was clear that it was not going to go away i thought why am i getting picked on here? what is this all about? i'm just doing what everybody does. why is this a problem? shortly thereafter obviously quickly i was fired by the law firm and people started treating me with a little bit of a lot of disdain and there were more articles it seemed like every day in the front page of the post this extremely difficult as you can imagine for my family and seeing the paper did there is every day and there i am on the front page, and eventually i started to look into hiring an attorney, a brilliant attorney who started going through with me my e-mails and i wrote
850,000 e-mails for the less than a decade i was alive, so i kind of had diarrhea of the fingers and there were plenty of e-mails there and senator mccain's committee was sort of person from them and the things like that knocking them out "the washington post" on the front page we complained we filed a complaint to the senate committee that violates senate ethics you are having an investigation we're supposed to link it all to the press that they didn't quite pay attention to that one and eventually it became clear to me that i had crossed the line i didn't set out to cross and lines i didn't think i crossed when i was doing it frankly i stopped caring about them to be honest with you while i was lobbying i just wanted to win and i didn't understand what this was all about and then eventually and started figuring out what it was all about and i started to see i had done things wrong and it started to shock me to be honest with you. i didn't contemplate i would
never have a moment like that and then while i'm sort of going through this personal journey figuring out what i did and where i was there was a public inquisition going on and everything in my life was taken negatively. every aspect of my life even the charity was described in pejorative terms and so i edentulous all different papers like the l.a. times where i had grown up they had to have their cut at me and so they went back and took my eighth grade election when i ran for president of the class in the eighth grade and debris characterized that as this would of beginning of my nefarious campaign activities and the had another article where when i played football i hit a linebacker once and pretty hard and knocked him out and they portrayed it as proof that i was some kind of allin as if you are
supposed to play football and not people according to them or something i don't know, but anyway, this was going on and i was thinking, and i just kept falling and wondering when does this stop. it never stops. it kept going and going and landed in prison. i was brought up to the hearing you ask about and i described the first part of the look and i played the fifth that the hearing. the senate hearings people ask me why did you plead the fifth. the senate hearings are not sort of for the rights. the witnesses don't have rights in the senate in fact they have rules in the senate they don't even abide by and i will give an example when we got they're the first thing out of my journey they sat down and said senators, i would like to ask a question, a point of information and they recognized them. they said you have a role that you made that it if the senate hearing is likely to lead to the indictment of the witness or the
this merging of the reputation of this hearing has got to be held in closed session. that is your role. if there is a hearing there is more likely to lead to an indictment of somebody or is destroying the reputation i can't imagine what it is but meanwhile you have this hearing on capitol hill you designed it to take place when they were opening the native american museum so you control the room with people who've been ripped up against me and you have more cameras here than the super bowl and this hearing should be closed and the senator is kind of looked at each other and looked at him and kept going so i knew that there wasn't going to be a fair forum but what kind of got to me when all they were asking the questions for the memories coming back to me of who these guys were. a lot of them were people who, you look on your people that worked with me a feel of money to. byron dorgan about $75,000. senator campbell who chaired the
committee claims he doesn't remember now i read in the but the exact data that we had breakfast at the restaurant which doesn't exist anymore where i handed him a bunch of checks he was the chairman of the committee and told me our clients would do very well in front of his committee and so i am thinking they ask me these terrific questions insulting, nasty questions and i am pleading the fifth to every one of them and got so bad senator mccain who is my greatest actually was the one who said senators i think we better stop this we are harassing this witness. well, no kidding. so they stopped and i got to leave but it was a terrific experience as a unfortunately this whole thing has been. >> host: one of the things that really seems to stick in your mind is the way in which you were pilloried for wearing a hat. the image of you wearing a hat as you exited i believe that hearing. >> guest: it was when i plead guilty in court.
>> host: tell us about that. >> guest: it was january, 2006, and i knew from the beginning i was going to plea because as soon as i saw was guilty of things i didn't want to fight and create a big spectacle and drag things out. i wanted to do what i thought would be right, and so i knew i was going to please and i was already cooperating in the meeting with of the department as i did do for many days including after i went to prison command of the day came in january for five think it was maybe of 2006 when i had to go to court. everywhere i went the media would show up with their cameras and they would charge me and yell things at me and make it as unpleasant as life can be and i really didn't want that so i decided to go to court as early in the morning as possible to be the media.
it was i think a hearing at moon new orie 11 and i went in at six in the morning and it was raining. it was dark when i left that january morning. so it's raining and i got the raincoat and grabbed the rain hat people said it was some fancy had it was a collapsible rain had i had in my closet and i grabbed it and i put it on and i walked in the rain and went into court and most people there were not a lot of people going in at six in the morning but the folks who were in putting my attorney had raincoat's on and the hearing took place and pled guilty had a lot of things on my mind that they cannot find work robie and i walked out, i put my hat and coat on to leave and as i walked out the glare of the sun and to the cameras they started screaming at me. the folks who were taking pictures, they scream terrible stuff that you and the reason
they do that is they want you to look at them so if they scream something more outrageous than the other guy they to do you will turn around and look at them and that's the goal. they were screaming stop me who are you come a gangster, are you a mafia and first i didn't know they were talking about and i realized was the have and i wanted to say what are you talking about the last gangster that were a catholic this was george raft in the 40's but i didn't get to say anything and i realized at that point i had a word will malfunction and i set myself unfortunately for a real problem, but that will happen and i wrote about it in the book and unfortunately that has sort of becoming the image of me that pleaded to the image of the bad guy, the mafia and things like that and unfortunately in life sometimes they are things if you don't think that then they can boil down to a detriment and it certainly did. >> host: do you think that you were treated fairly? >> guest: buy cone? a lot of people treated me.
>> host: like federal prosecutors? >> guest: i do. the sent me away to jail for a long time but i think they were incredibly professional, very fair, above reproach, and treated me with great dignity in the sense that they were professional. i didn't experience with some people experienced prosecutors, which is kind of harassment and prosecutorial abuse. people who worked on my case that i experienced or nothing but professionals and i appreciated in greatly being professional. a was a terrific thing i knew eventually that i was going to end evin prison and the prosecutorial team and the justice department were obviously the ones who put me there. i put myself there i guess they were the ones who were the operating side of it, but even knowing that instead of looking at them and hating them as most prisoners and felons to the prosecutors and the judge and
certainly the fbi, i don't hate anybody. i put myself where i went, and i regret it. >> host: you describe the track at the cumberland correctional facility and going over how could we change the system. would you recommend as reform. was the hardest thing about being in prison and what lessons if any did you take away from the trial and imprisonment? >> guest: i have so many lessons unless we have another hour i can't go through all of them but some of the big ones were the you've got to follow the rules. you can't ignore the rules and my children probably don't like this because i won't even drive over the speed limit at this point, but i didn't happen to have all these rules important. i thought they were impediments and the ends justified the means. and it is and how life is. unfortunately if you live life like that and i did, you wind up in trouble so that is one big
lesson i took away. i also took away the lesson of you'd better see the trees or you'll wind up very by those trees and i didn't step back and say you know, should i be in this come should i be doing this? is their anything wrong with when doing and i never had a moment like that unfortunately. as i mentioned quite the opposite. i felt that it was okay. so one has to do that. in terms of walking the tract in prison and how i was treated in prison, prism is horrible. one day in prison you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. i was careful hundred 99 days and it's horrible. unfortunately there are a lot of prison time out to people. there were people in prison for a lot longer than i was who were with me and it is a crushing experience. you're not only take away from your family come you are taken away from your freedom and your strip away everything that you have and you're basically become a number in a sleeve. you work for paul cents an hour,
you have no privacy, not one minute of privacy, you are sharing cubicles with 150 square feet and six men living at 150 square feet, its overcrowded, it's noisy, it is just the most horrible place you could ever be. every minute i was in prison i was praying to god to get me out of prison and it happened. >> host: looking back was there a turning point where you went from thinking everything was okay to realizing that it was very much not okay? >> guest: the turning point is when my firm collier be putting it up to that point i thought we will fly through this and everything will be okay and i described the meeting in the book when they came in to see me and i thought they were coming in to tell me how we are going to turn this around and instead they fired me and the was devastating and that made me realize that i wasn't probably coming back from this. i tried, still come to position
myself to that point and i realized this wasn't going to end well. >> host: if there is one thing you could do differently what would it be? >> guest: there isn't one thing i would do differently, there are many things. but again, i would follow, be careful to follow every rule. i would be careful to make sure that i didn't think that information that i have shut my clients for example deserve to have to make decisions are not necessary for them to have irreparably try to if i could to squelch this hyper competitive attitude that i have that i have to win the matter what. all of those are destructive challenges, and i am hoping that i overcome a lot of them through the pain that i've been through. but one never really knows i guess until you are back in the situation. >> host: you predicted in your book that the reforms that you propose would not be well received in washington lobbyists
they take umbrage at you and consider you responsible for helping this lobbyists a bad name would now come up with recommendations for how to change the system. does that surprise you? >> guest: of course not. by the way a number of lobbyist friends told them you will have any other lobbyists. the lobbying world i think very convenient we wanted to make it that i was besmirched the main delete any lobbyist. i don't remember a minute when i was a lobbyist they had a good reputation. i certainly didn't help, but i wasn't the only one. and i and understand the now feel i have no right to come back and frankly the laughter the system. i'm not doing this to please the more not please them. i'm giving this because i feel that i have information that i can in some ways make summer
consent to the country i frankly is as much greater fealty the into the lobbying for old. if i can do something that will help clean up the system and eight people in analyzing their government and i'm going to do it. i understood by the way, and i thought about it is that it can be very much easier for me to be quiet and go and not subject myself again to the media scrutiny and not subject myself certainly to the hilly and the lobbying will and their scrutiny which is in tents. but i described to the coke decided that wouldn't be right. i went through this. i need to do something to make sense. i had the institution, probably be paying restitution for the rest of my life. that's one thing i went to prison. my family is basically lost everything. my kids suffered, my father suffered, my mother passed away. certainly i paid price rightfully so for what i did but
there's something positive i can do it by going to do it and if a bunch of lobbyists don't like it it doesn't matter to me. i've been in prison for 43 months a don't think that they should have some lobbyists on k street are going to. >> host: you have been barred by of the federal government for being a lobbyist and doing any business. >> guest: not being a lobbyist with the interior department barred me from being a lender not that i had any plans to be a vendor, but de -- when i got out a path through a debarment from the interior by the way i don't intend to be a lobbyist either. the board me for being a lobbyist of would be fine but they didn't and i don't think they can bore me from being a lobbyist. >> host: but you wouldn't want to be a lobbyist. >> guest: i don't want to return to a world where i have my head cut off. frankly i would rather dedicate my life to doing something good like helping people in general. >> host: talk about what steps to are taking to promote changes in the system. >> guest: i wrote the book and
am speaking about it and i'm trying to answer questions that people have because even people read the book have a lot of questions still and put everything in the book. i'm trying to work with some of the reform groups why we were my biggest adversaries and enemies when i was going through this they were people who went after me the most and that was their business and their job, but i have reached my hand out and said okay i was that guy that used to be me, now why would go after them and say let me try to be helpful if i can. most of them are plated and want to help me help if they can. some are not and some feel i should name or names and put more people in jeopardy and i don't want to do that even people i don't like. it's not up to me about individuals or people destroying the lives and people don't think when they want to destroy somebody's life that the of children and families and people love them and they suffer more than they do but it's more than that. the fact is every time we focus
on jack abramoff and pat ourselves on the back his bed and he is the one who destroyed lobbying and it destroyed washington. we don't fix the system we fix him and i got fixed. there's no question about it. so what i prefer to do is instead of focusing like that, i would rather focus people on the system. here are specific things if we change that and get people to change them life will be a lot better for all of us. >> host: one of the things you recommend is that lobbyists be barred from making campaign contributions. it's very controversial. there are many lobbies to say that it's unconstitutional. what do you think are the areas where there is common ground? >> guest: with the lobbyist? >> host: within the reform committee and the lobbying community. >> guest: i don't think there is common ground. i'm not talking about a lobbyist who is out there just applying the trade. i'm talking about the lobbyists who care of these things. they don't want to be barred
from the contributions or from taking people to dinner and things like that. i don't know that there is common ground because ultimately those people -- and i was one of them use those tools to their advantage to get a leg up on not only the general american populace but as a lobbyist. and so, real reform isn't going to happen but what will happen is things like you have to sit down -- you can't sit down when you're eating your meal you have to stand a beef use your fingers its lot of you and your feeding a congressman, stupid stuff. what i'm talking about is a root and branch boring. in the constitutionality of its north carolina board the lobbyist estate from getting any public contributions and it was just appalled on the fourth circuit and i think people have to remember it's one thing to bar people from getting money. it's a nothing to tell somebody if you want -- forcing a devotee to be a lobbyist by the we were to kings from the federal
government but if you want to do that, the need to give up certain things, and i think those choices had been held up the constitution and that is the basis on which i hope the changes like this would be constitutional. >> host: a number of people were caught up in a series of scandals that sent you to prison and then only one of them, a member of congress was a lawmaker with an elected official. do you feel that there is a sense in which when congress goes to fix the problem the focus goes to the lobbyist but not to themselves? >> guest: i can tell you what i was like when i saw the reform bill coming. we knew that we would get around it. we know that there were locals and so when we got to the lobbyists for the congressman part of the problem and one of the reasons they were the only ones who went to prison bob had a different issue that wasn't related to mind. he gave for he took $50,000 in the casino ships from the
businessmen apparently who wanted the government to get permission to sell planes to iran. that act in the casino in london is what i think unhinged and bob pletka by the way not sure where it wound up that probably he would have been convicted but in terms of the stuff with me no one else was indicted because a lot of the congressional actions are protected under the speech and debate clause. in fact jefferson who famously went to prison because of $90,000 preserves at home and money that was marked bills from the fbi from a bribery operation that he was running or excursion operation if that was in his office he would be enjoying the that money today. so there is a lot of protection that they had in the congress that prevent people in the justice department from the investigating that.
>> host: you have been a film maker, you have invested in a casino cruise company, you have launched a restaurant, there's talk now with a reality tv show. i don't know if that is still alive. what is next for you and what are you working on now? >> guest: i'm working on a reality show. i'm working on some other television and things that are related to this space. i've got a social game that we are developing that brings people into this world in a way that's fun, challenging and threatening. i'm trying to do everything i can to come from the way that the media are today in terms of the opportunity for young people and others to get educated. it's not just give a speech, write a book, one television there are other things that have to be done now and so i was trying to accommodate this message and this approach to that and hoping that in doing so we would be able to widen the audience, people who care about it and people are going to do something about it still out there doing 100 things, but a
lot of them are sort of sitting in this space trying to promote this. >> host: where do you think the campaign finance system is going inside the freed up corporate money and which seems to have angered so many people on both sides of the dial? >> guest: i don't know where it's going to go next. i hope it goes where i hope will go and others who want to get the money of the system that would just remain to be seen and depends on the american people pushing these members to do the right thing. again, campaign finances is a hot-button but i think we need to do -- i am a conservative and i've always been a conservative, but i am working with liberals also and progressives who have the same view on the corruption side. we need to find those things where liberals can agree. they are not going to agree on the campaign public financing campaigns. we could agree on borrowing special-interest from getting money and when we find those areas we need to push those
areas and hopefully solve the problems together because in this atmosphere in washington if something is just on the right or just on the left it isn't going to go >> host: on that note i will say thank you very much. >> guest: thank you for having me. here are the best-selling books of 2011 according to "the new